love and meat walls


For Francis, the answer lay, not in escape from the desperations of natural life, but in a transformation in his spiritual understanding of the interwoven meaning of suffering and love. He came to see that the whole of creation, and each of its varied creatures in their distinct strengths and struggles, reflected and revealed the perfection of the Creator. If all things are from one Father, then all are kin and worthy of solicitude and appreciation. It was not nature in the abstract that he loved but every differentiated being in its particularity and individuality. Likewise, he loved not humanity in the abstract so much as individual human beings. He described this love as courtesy, a tender affection and concern for others as precious and unique, as creatures beloved of God; and his courtesy was born not of magnanimity or largesse (with their implicit sense of superiority) but of genuine humility of heart. He became the “little brother” (the Order of Friars Minor is the official name of his followers), placing himself in a position of neediness before others. Not so much a giver of gifts as a “giver of giving,” Francis provided the invitation to give by putting himself in circumstances that drew forth the generosity of others — and with it, their self-respect.

more from William B. Hurlbut at The New Atlantis here.